NOVA PhD course: Peat soils and peatlands in Nordic countries
Peatlands are very common in all Nordic countries and they are known to accumulate more organic matter than other soils due to excess water and reduced decomposition rates. They also have particular microbial processes such as methane production that are not found in well-drained soil types, but are relevant for the global carbon balance; methane is an efficient greenhouse gas.
Peatlands are a very large carbon stock globally, however, both land management and global warming can cause reductions in the carbon stored in peat. Drainage for agricultural and forestry usage enhances peat decomposition, although the increased photosynthetic binding of CO2 to growth counteracts this. It is still quite poorly known which effect is larger, as it depends strongly on the site type and the efficacy of the drainage. Drainage can also cause major discharge of organic matter and nutrients to freshwater, and increase flooding risks in the spring.
Peatlands are particularly important for biodiversity, with the especial vegetation and harbouring of mammal, bird and reptile species cannot be forgotten. Other ecosystem services provided by peatlands include recreation, gathering of berries and hunting. The cultural dimension and aesthetic value of an undisturbed peatland landscape are also significant.
Give the students an integrated view about peat soil and peatlands in Nordic countries; the effects of different land use practices on peatlands, and the importance of peatlands in the global carbon balance.
Basics of soil science. Expected participants are PhD students in soil science, forest ecology, agronomy, environmental science or biology.
For more information and registration: http://www.joensuu.fi/metsatdk/gsforest/students/2012_NOVA_peatcourse.htm